Beyond that, the sea

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A gentle, haunting look at love and compassion, with all their dips and valleys and unexpected meanderings, amidst the steady and inescapable pull of time.

When Beatrix, an eleven-year-old Londoner, becomes an evacuee to America during the bombings of WWII, her life takes on an entirely new tone. Sent to board with a family based in New England, Bea discovers a world and a rhythm, comforting and enveloping, bordered by idyllic summers at the family cottage on a private island in Maine. Geographically as far as possible from the terror and devastation of a European war left behind, Bea must learn to balance the confusing contradictions of her feelings – fear, grief and sorrow for her parents left behind, while revelling in the joy and freedom a second loving family provides her, in a setting, that frankly, feels like paradise. A slow and peaceful paradise, Maine style, with swimming, and rowboats, and lobster dinners and best of all, a proxy family whose welcoming embrace is direct and uncomplicated, and more than Bea is used to.

Written in a style that intersperses multiple very short episodic POV narratives across a time-line that spans decades, this richly immersive tale is a very slow burn, the author’s arms-length look at her protagonists taking time to build in both its intimacy and its affection. As we the reader discover along with Bea, life can have many curve-balls up its sleeves, including those both joyful and devastating. As Bea’s life and loves unfold across two continents, this lovely read is worth the wait – a thoughtful tale that will sit with you, simmering, long after the final pages are read.

A great big thank you to the author, and the publisher #Celadonbooks for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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